HS2 injunction granted to ban “nuisance” protestors

HS2 Ltd has been granted a route-wide injunction along phases one and 2a, between London and Crewe, to tackle “disruptive” protesters.

The claimants HS2 Ltd and the Secretary of State for Transport, applied to the high court in March as protests against the line are expected to have cost £200m by the time phases one and 2a are complete.

Mr Justice Julian Knowles, sitting at Birmingham’s Civil Justice Centre said there has been “significant violence, criminality and sometimes risk to the life of the activists, HS2 staff and contractors” and that action seems to be more about, “trying to cause as much nuisance as possible” rather than activists expressing views.

He said without the injunction, “trespass and nuisance will continue, unless restrained, and that the risk is both real and imminent.

“I begin by emphasising, again, that nothing in the proposed order will prevent the right to conduct peaceful and lawful protest against HS2.”

The order will prevent anyone from obstructing or interfering with land, vehicles and equipment or people accessing the land to delay HS2 work. Breaking the injunction would be a contempt of court, which can lead to jail.

A spokesperson for HS2 Ltd said: “As Justice Knowles makes clear, this injunction will not, and is not intended to stop legitimate protest.

“Instead, we hope the injunction will prevent the violence, intimidation, and criminal damage these protests have frequently caused, harming the HS2 project and those working on it, and costing the UK taxpayer millions of pounds.

“The construction of HS2 is playing a vital role in Britain’s economic recovery from the pandemic, with almost 28,000 people already working on the project and tens of thousands of additional jobs supported through our supply chain.

“We urge everyone who cares about our natural environment to support a project that is providing work across the UK today, and in the future will get people out of cars, off planes and onto zero carbon rail travel.” 

Due to the potential numbers of people and the area affected by the injunction, it is thought this will be one of the most far-reaching injunctions in English legal history.